Sunday, December 28, 2014

Yair (ben Menashe) ben Yosef - Parshat Vayechi

The gemara in Baba Basra 121b discusses that there is a chain of seven people whose lifespans overlapped to collectively cover the entirety of world history:
  1. Adam Harishon lived 930 years
  2. Mesushelach was alive to see Adam Harishon
  3. Shem ben Noach was alive to see Mesushelach
  4. Yaakov was alive to see Shem
  5. Amram was alive to see Yaakov
  6. Achiya Hashiloni was alive to see Amram
  7. Eliyahu Hanavi was alive to see Achiya Hashiloni
And our tradition is that Eliyahu Hanavi is still alive.
In some cases the overlap is explicitly stated in the pasukim but in other cases it is attributed to "gemara" which means oral tradition (Rashbam ibid).
Further on, the gemara notes that Yair ben Menashe, the grandson of Yosef, was alive to see Yaakov Avinu. Here, as well there is no conclusive proof from the Torah itself and, as such, Rashbam explains that this is likewise "gemara" – a tradition.
Comes Rabbi Mordechai Aronovsky in his work Niflaos M'Torasecha and he points out that although there is no explicit source for this assertion about Yair ben Menashe, there is a fascinating remez (hint) to this claim.
He says that in all of the five books of Torah there is only one sequence of words where the Roshei Teivos spell out the word "Yair" and it is in this pasuk (Breishis 48:11):
ויאמר ישראל אל יוסף ראה פניך לא פללתי והנה הראה אותי אלקים גם את זרעך.

Yaakov says to Yosef in jubilation: I did not aspire to see your face (again) and behold, G-d has shown me even your offspring.  Meshech Chochma points out that the added word גם (even) is intended to extend this phenomenon to include "even" the next generation – i.e. Yair ben Menashe. And, sure enough, we see the name "Yair" encoded in this very pasuk, the only such Roshei Teivos in all of the five books!

One minor question may cross our minds. If Yaakov is applauding his good fortune and the graciousness of HKBH for allowing him this unforeseen delight, why does he allude to G-d with the term "Elokim" which typically implies harshness and midas hadin? He should have used the four letter name that implies benevolence, kindness, and midas harachamim?

Well, my 16 year old Mendy is very tuned to current events. And he is suggesting that there may be a dark side to this remez as it can be applied to our generation as well.

You see, Tommy Lapid, who was no friend to the chareidim l’dvar Hashem, was really Yosef Lapid. Last decade, he had a brief, yet turbulent, stint as a policy maker in the Israeli political arena. He came in with a platform of "saving" the nation from the "parasitic" chareidim and at the same time he didn’t even claim to have anything to offer or contribute to society in general. Since he had no success in his exclusive anti-chareidi agenda, he petered out accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Now, just when we thought we could say Baruch She’p’tarani on his anti-chareidi-and-nothing-else agenda, we get his offspring Yair to come in on an identical platform. Yair ben Yosef may have been slightly more effective in making life more challenging for the chareidi tzibur, but in the larger picture, he has produced nothing positive for any member of Israeli society.

And thus there may be a second, more contemporary, application of the remez of this pasuk:

ויאמר ישראל אל יוסף >  and the nation of Israel says to Yosef (Tommy) Lapid

ראה פניך לא פללתי> to see your face in the Knesset is something we would never aspire to

והנה הראה אותי אלקים גם את זרעך > and, behold, to our great consternation, Elokim (midas hadin) has decreed upon us to see your offspring as well.


Woe is to us!

וליכא מידי דלא רמיזי באורייתא


The Bald Guy said...

Setting aside ad hominem attacks as far as Mr. Lapid is concerned, or the way he may have went about attempting to implement his programme - can you explain why it is that increased/any education in maths/science/English (language) necessarily a bad thing? Or why participating in the defense of one's country is a bad thing, especially since everyone else has to do it?

Thank you.

Yechezkel said...

Dear Mr. Bald Guy,

Thank you for your comment.

Firstly, I would say that it is evident that you have not read my book. My initial suggestion is to please read it first, and if, by that point, this question is still bothering you please get back to me and we can discuss it from a vantage point of knowledge.

That said, I will offer a very brief direct response that this is not about increasing education or military burden. If it were, our Arab cousins would be getting the same treatment.

Rather, this is clearly an issue of control. Attempting to control and to dictate to a population that wants to play the game differently. There is nothing wrong with increased education if one values it and wants it. But to dictate to somebody who has a particular set of educational values that they must accept your educational values is coercion. Do I need to explain to you why coercion is a bad thing?

As far a defense of one's country - it would probably surprise you to learn that (a) the chareidim have a different perception of how to best defend one's country and (b) the chareidim are very non-discriminatory and do not believe that everybody else has to do it.

All the best.


Neshama said...

I learned today in our Parasha, that these same grandchildren and great grandchildren were the ones to stand at Har Sinai and to make it thru the desert an into Eretz Yisrael with Yehoshua. now, that's quite an accomplishment.